War Z creator apologizes for controversy

Sergey Titov admits he became "arrogant" due to zombie game's quick growth; says community management and moderation fell short.

Outspoken The War Z creator Sergey Titov has apologized for the game's controversial launch (and subsequent de-listing from Steam) earlier this month. In an open letter to the community, Titov said developer Hammerpoint Interactive "failed to effectively communicate" its plans for the new zombie survival game, which led to some "very negative feedback" from members of the community.

"I became arrogant and blinded by the early success and quick growth of The War Z, our increasing number of players, numbers we were getting from surveys, etc., and I chose not to notice the concerns and questions raised by these members of the game community as well as others," Titov said. "This failure is entirely on my shoulders and if anything I owe thanks to that vocal minority and admit that I should have paid attention sooner. I chose instead to concentrate on the bigger picture: my dream of turning The War Z from being a game developed by a small indie team into a large online venture, instead of addressing small things first and staying focused on the game issues."

Titov further noted that the events of the past week were "especially humbling." He said the past cannot be changed, but promised the same mistakes will not be made in the future.

"I was too focused on how great we are and how a small independent team got their first game to over 700,000 users in a two-month period," Titov said. "Though that is something to be very proud of, allowing that to overshadow the existing community and their satisfaction was poor judgment."

Titov explained that community management and moderation for The War Z fell short. He said Hammerpoint relied too heavily on forum moderators, whose primary directive was to punish those who broke rules, he said, instead of engaging the community and guiding conversations toward constructive discussion. Additionally, Titov said there was not enough attention paid to talking about upcoming War Z features or appropriate dialogue through social networks.

"There wasn’t enough presence of the development team on forums; there wasn’t enough updates on development of upcoming features. We failed to communicate our position and messaging on the outside platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and various online websites, and when we did this we chose to rely more on arrogance rather than being humble and trying to understand why people were saying negative things," he said.

The solution to the community management and moderation problems, Titov said, is an overhaul of Hammerpoint's community management procedures and rules. "We’re going to reevaluate publishing and marketing team performance, and I will make sure that Hammerpoint Interactive developers will have a much stronger voice when it comes to community management."

Titov also shared that one of his proposed ideas to engage the community further is to invite 10 players from around to the world to visit the Hammerpoint offices in Los Angeles, California. There, these gamers would meet the development team, get a look at in-development features, and addresses concerns, wishes, and other thoughts.

Lastly, Titov clarified that the current version of The War Z is titled "Foundation Release," which is a "first-stage" release used as a foundation to build on top of.

"I do believe that we aren’t even close to uncovering the true potential for The War Z, and I hope that in the coming year, we’ll be able to regain trust from people who were alienated by our actions and we’ll be able to move forward and grow the game together," Titov said.

Controversy surrounding The War Z came to light upon the game's release through Steam last week. Users quickly began reporting numerous issues with The War Z. Further, many players criticized the game and Hammerpoint for being misleading and for censoring their comments about issues with the game. The game has since been pulled from Steam.

Day Z creator Dean Hall previously said the controversy left him "depressed," noting he contemplated leaving game development altogether as a result.

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Eddie Makuch

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.
Infestation: Survivor Stories (The War Z)

Infestation: Survivor Stories (The War Z)

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349 comments
kohle36
kohle36

Wait wait wait wait wait....wait...

Wasn't this the same guy who produced "Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing"?

PR aside, how does he even let anything make him 'arrogant' at this point? I thought he would have hid himself in shame at the mere mention of 'game' development

Zombiez
Zombiez

I am here to trump all your arguments.

War Z has proven to be Romero perfect.

It features walking, not running zombies.

I go to left 4 dead for running zombies,but War Z captures the madness of the Romero world. It is the creator of Day Z's fault for not being a Romero purist.  

Zombiez
Zombiez

It is the fault of the Maker of Day Z for not being George Romero perfect.

War Z features walking zombies. I go to left 4 Dead for my runners.

SythisTaru
SythisTaru

Sergey's the hero gaming deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So we'll hunt him.  Because he can take it. Because he's not our hero. He's a silent guardian, a watchful protector.

DP1130
DP1130

Will this be re-released on Steam in the possibly near future? Was it just takin down for bug fixing? Very interested in this one.

Eragon55
Eragon55

If it looks like a turd and smells like a turd (not to mention that it has been called out as a turd)....it's a turd.

Yagami-san
Yagami-san

NEW STEAM SALE

The Complete Titov Bundle Pack. Bundle Includes:

War Z

Big Rigs(Most acclaimed truck racing game of all time)

 

Who wants this one?

SpardisJX
SpardisJX

I think this headline can be summed up into four words:  "Too little, too late."

faceless-mask
faceless-mask

Hey guys, in case no one knew, The War Z was actually sent a letter of suspension and a notification of this suspension by the US Patent Office. This was on November 15th of last year, apparently because the name of the game is too similar to that of the upcoming movie "World War Z". Now, what's interesting is the fact that if you check on the USPTO website, you'll notice that the makers of the movie applied for the rights to the name 10 days BEFORE the makers of the game applied for the name "The War Z". And according to the devs at Hammerpoint Interactive, the game's been in development for at least a year. So if that's true, wouldn't the application have been filed before hand? Or am I the only person who'd like to get the name patented and trademarked as soon as I start working on something? 

ggregd
ggregd

This guy is the slimy version of Derek Smart, which is saying a lot.  Dr. Goebbles would be proud of this propaganda piece, megalomaniacal hubris and all.  Use part of the "facts" (700,000 players) to support the Big Lie (the game is good) and deflect outcry from The Leader by getting subordinates (mods) to do their dirty work.  Too bad for him it's not 1939.

Phange_2
Phange_2

Sergey Titov is a slimeball. He was the producer of Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing (the lowest-rated game in Gamespot history). When confronted with the fact that a game he produced was literally an unfinished mess (there's no collision detection and your opposition never leaves the starting line), he claimed that he wasn't actually the producer but merely licensed out his engine for the game. He's a pathological liar and The War Z is really just the straw that broke the camel's back. In the past, he merely sold bargain bin drivel. Peddling copyright-infringing, unfinished, broken, software and then banning buyers for pointing it out is grounds for being permanently blacklisted from the video game developer community. 

Tzardok
Tzardok

Damage is done... It will be hard to recover and honestly I don't know how much he really means it. The apology is certainly drafted and prepared, it doesn't feel natural.

 

I have no stake at this, but I hope it turns for the best for every party involved. Just take note, arrogance = downfall so don't be an elitist jerk - that's the lesson.

theshonen8899
theshonen8899

It sounds like he's bragging more than apologizing.

Tixylixx
Tixylixx

Love how in the picture the character models are standing in a default pose that they do in an SDK before they get animated.

bloody-hell
bloody-hell

So, he hired a PR company to write a generic standard "excuse" for him, nice.

Words cannot describe the level of "fuck up" he achieved with that War-Z stunt.

 

He can basically close down his studio and get his name changed or look for a different profession because no sane person would buy a product from that liar ever again. (unless he pulls off another stunt like that for some quick cash before the public notices)

EA would hire that person in a second as marketing strategy lead if they wouldn't be fully staffed with similarly thinking idiots already.

 

Gamers, this is why you should never preorder anything but get facts together first to check if it's worth your time and investment.

Stackpile
Stackpile

"I was too focused on how great we are and how a small independent team got their first game to over 700,000 users in a two-month period"

 

There are so many things wrong with this sentence.  I usually don't care about stupid stuff like this but this is so egregiously arrogant and borderline offensive I feel the need to write this post I'm sure no one will ever read.

 

The bottom line is this:  An open ended, sandbox zombie game is a great freaking concept.  You're bound to get a ton of subscribers.  And coming in right on the heels of a successful mod featuring the exact same concept that can boast over a million users?  Even better.  The War Z's initial success had absolutely nothing to do with Sergei or his team, it had to do with the success of Day Z and in the attractiveness of the concept itself.  In fact, I think its entirely fair to say that the War Z was initially successful IN SPITE OF Sergei and his team's involvement, and is now an abysmal failure BECAUSE OF Sergei and his team's involvement. 

 

To reiterate:  Getting 700,000 users in two months was the result of cashing in at the right time, and is absolutely not an indication of this team's greatness and is not something to boast of.  I'd honestly be ashamed to mention the figure, as it pretty obviously telegraphs that The War Z was a sure thing from the get go and ONLY failed because of Hammerhead's ineptitude.

Agent_47
Agent_47

Its too bad this game is so broken as I was truly looking forward to it.  Despite all of the controversy with the Steam release, if they can truly fix it, I might be willing to give them a chance as I do love zombies :)

GreySeven
GreySeven

After reading this I am still secure in the fact that zombies are played out to death, no pun intended.

muppen
muppen

With such a stellar title as Big Rigs as his "background" I'm not surprised this "game" is a broken piece of sh't.

jollybest1
jollybest1

Congrats man now you are worse than EA and their Origin thing..........

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LonerCat
LonerCat

I don't see any comment on the sheer brokenness of the game...

Atomic_Gumshoe
Atomic_Gumshoe

People who are accusing him of being arrogant seem not to realize that admitting your arrogance is not being being arrogant. It would be arrogant if he were stating that there is no problem with his game, stating its popularity, sales, how people who criticize the game just don't understand his genius etc. Admitting that he has made a mistake and acknowledging his own hubris is the least arrogant thing you could do.

2611mp
2611mp

Is anyone else absolutely SICK of the never ending stream of zombie games, games featuring zombies, zombie based games, game based zombies, zombie this, zombie that... I mean, come on.. it's ruining zombies like Twilight ruined vampires...

bunotski
bunotski

at first.. Iwas so excited to buy War Z but.. because of their arrogance..  tsk tsk tsk 

trencher10B
trencher10B

"I was too focused on how great we are ... "

 

The experience did not humble the braggart at all if he cannot realise the statement for what it is.

Hitman_SAm
Hitman_SAm

apologizing still wont fix your game... so no I will never buy your game

LandauTST
LandauTST

Let me translate - "I have enough money for now to hold me over until we release a less-broken yet still incomplete game in the near future."

9TailsFox
9TailsFox

still better apology then for ME3 ending.

snova9308
snova9308

this game was doomed from the start

GaijinShogun
GaijinShogun

I don't play PC games, but I'll falcon punch Sergey's head off of his shoulders for those who are. Love, a random meat head console gamer. 

advancedcaveman
advancedcaveman

Oh I get it now. The Z in The War Z stands for "Zasshole."

clonepliot
clonepliot

When you fix the rampant hacking problem then we can talk

 

Cuthbert1970
Cuthbert1970

Titov the arrogant and ignorant bastard can rot in hell!!!

GetafixOz
GetafixOz

Its like the guy is standing there staring at a statue of Smedley looking at a statue of Romero looking at a statue of Tournquist looking at a statue of Ozimandis which says..... you know the rest. Game developers getting arrogant at their own genius, gee it looks like 2013 is avoiding starting off in total dejavous no ?

jnco10999
jnco10999

The company sucks, the game sucks, the people who bought the game suck, end of story. 

DEE199
DEE199

money banked, who can we mug off next....

Whoracle0706
Whoracle0706

The idea may be stolen, or similar. However, its good that there are titles that fall into a similar category even if one is better than the other. This will allow gamers to make their own choice which game to support and push both companies to develop their game to a higher degree in order to attain a larger playerbase and more devoted community. Just keep polishing your games and hopefully we will end up with two great games to add to our collection. But, still stay away from those shoddy business practices hammerpoint.

JURGMANDR
JURGMANDR

Well at least he admitted they bit off more than they could chew.  Maybe  I'll look into this game further down the line..

Dirk_McHardpeck
Dirk_McHardpeck

So where does he apologize for stealing somone else's idea?

WingChopMasta
WingChopMasta

Eeeks. I kind of feel bad for the guy. I am pretty sure a lot of smaller indie devs that grow really fast can get overwhelmed and forget about who got the there. I also understand the fact that in this day and age we need labels on coffee to warn people that it's hot...Derp.... Seriously, even though they stated it was an alpha and that is in it's first stages people still where shocked by how rough it was. This is the problem when you do these open alpha's and beta's to people that are not familiar with what it's like. 

 

Yes it being on Steam was a mistake but that is not all Hammerpoint's fault. Valve is responsible for Q and A on the games they offer are they not?

 

Either way, they messed up. The public are stupid people that will continue to purchase things regardless of how much negative feedback it get's. The App store is another hilarious example. 200+ negative comment on a bad app? Really? none of those people got the hint and did some comment reading before spending money? 

jaundiceface
jaundiceface

does community management and moderation mean controlling peoples opinions?

gufberg
gufberg

I'm still somewhat sad that 700k people have bought his his game. Their profits have been huge. 

 

I want Hammerpoint to FAIL and DIE goddamnit. 

sarrok
sarrok

Haha, he dug himself into a hole so big i hope he'll never get out of it again. Nice to see some justice in the gaming industry for once.

Mystoksor
Mystoksor

In other words, he thought he could release an unfinished game with only hype to back him up. We're lucky Valve insisted on refunding dissatisfied buyers. This is the same guy who brought us Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing. Don't trust him with your money again.

Moghat
Moghat

I think the game has potential, before judge we need to remember the game still is in beta, ik it has a lot of bugs and stuff and this will take long to be fixed.

I guess the biggest mistake of WarZ creators was to create a a project that big being just a Indie company taht will for sure be really hard for em.

The_CJ_Dude
The_CJ_Dude

"I was too focused on how great we are".

 

That invalidates his entire apology. Not that he meant a word of it anyway, since this is clearly just an attempt to calm the controversy and get more people to buy the game.

 

Think I'll just go back to the games that don't make me recoil in disgust...

kingoflife9
kingoflife9

never heard of this game in my life because pc gaming sucks

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

What a fraud.  He is an asshole and his game is a scam trying to trick people into paying for an inferior version of a FREE MOD.

Shredwolf
Shredwolf

Good on him for apologising but I think it had much more meaning if it was to Dean Hall and his team for basically plagiarisng the idea and capitalising on that before they could prepare for the release of the Dayz.